Sunday, August 31, 2008

Selamat Hari Kemerdekaan

The operating word is ‘Merdeka’ which stands for Freedom or Being Independent or Free from external control and colonization or self-governing.

51 years ago, this nation set herself free from the British colonization so Malaysians today can enjoy freedom in the sense of being independent rather foreign domination.

Personally, an interesting word this ‘independent’ is.

As a person who believes in being created by The Mighty Creator, I cannot declare myself as an independent individual. The faith is, I am dependent to God to keep me safe and healthy, helps me out to do the right things and to avoid doing the wrong things from within and from without throughout my life and lives beyond.

Still, what an interesting word this ‘independent’ is.

During childhood, I depended upon my parents, siblings, relatives, kampong folks, neighbors, teachers, friends, society be it from the public sectors or private sectors and even good strangers. Also not fair that I don’t mention the government too who have paved the way for education, public facilities and all.

Childhood then was about being dependent, growing up was about learning all that I could to be independent. The reason was quite understood as I myself noticed on how the society strongly prejudiced against those who are not fit as being independent. So I did the best that I could, hitting all the books, qualified myself for the fully government boarding school, furthered my studies overseas and graduated.

Unfortunately, it was the economic recession so I had no choice but to work with my father helping him out in his auditing and consulting firm. Words emerged among circles of friends that I was still a very dependent person as I was working for my father. In fact, when I got married at the age of 23, I was considered more dependent as all the wedding expenses were paid for. My parents even bought me the house, the car, the furniture and all as my wedding gifts.

So I moved to Singapore as I was accepted for a very good position and good money working for one of the richest man in Asia. I have to admit that breaking away from family business did make me feel a bit independent.

Strangely, I had the urge for something more. So I came back running my own business (with a business partner of course). In the beginning, we had no choice but to depend on ex-boss for sub-contracts in system developments. It helped for our earlier survival. However, it did not take us long to develop our own line of products in risk management and financial information systems.

Trying hard to be as independent as possible, we encountered something awkward in running businesses particularly in obtaining contracts. We discovered that, no matter how good our products were, to sell had something to do with what was called as ‘Political Connections’. People in the industry suggested that we allocate some equity to certain politicians and let them do their political connection things. It was the strategy so known for obtaining contracts be it in the government sectors, or GLCs (Government Link Companies) or even the private sectors.

After lengthy discussions, we decided to be the production house, supplying modules to the Enterprise Resource Planning international companies and became independent consultants to the Multi-National Asset Management companies. Depending mostly on the international markets, circles of friends started calling us, “Truly Independent Businessmen”.

We propose, God disposes. Everything begins must come to an end. My partner got seriously ill and I knew well we both had depended on each other too much. Also we both did foresee that depending too much on the international markets spelled risk so we decided to sell the business to the international players.

Having some equities in the businesses, we both still enjoy annual dividends and monthly fees for being the senior consultants and member of Board of Directors. What we both enjoy most was the ability to live life with what known as having the Financial Independent. In short, we don’t have to really work to earn money.

Having this kind of independent has allowed me to do something else. As I always wanted to be creative in an artistic way, I started writing songs, do some mathematical art and animation. Circles of friends then started to say, “Oh, Azer is dependent on his properties”.

Relatives too have reminded me that there is more than doing nothing much. So I turned myself as a retailer running several sundry shops and initiated companies for my kids. The least I can consider myself being independent as I don’t have to worry about achieving contracts through ‘Political Connections’.

Any retailer particularly of a sundry shop will notice that sales of consumer daily based products are 90-95 percent foreign. Malaysia without doubt is so dependent on foreign items. The situation was voiced out many years ago by those who have been in retailing for years. I then joined myself with the family connection which to my surprise is about 57,500 work force consisting about 7,500 retailing shops all over the country not including other businesses like farming, fishing, small-medium industries etc. The idea of the connection is simple – to be dependent to each other and to be less dependent to the external factors.

The connection has no major problem whatsoever in synergizing each other out but to be less dependent to the external factors is really something else. So here we go again, while running own businesses, the businesses are depending on the external factors - government policies, fuel price hike, political situations, global situations, authorities etc. This leave us no choice but to move into a higher level in order to have more say in running businesses.

Last week, we initiated our a preliminary step into what we call, “The Family” Chamber of Commerce and Industries. The ‘Chamber’ shall connect family members who are into running businesses be it hawkers, self-employed, insurance agents, retailers, industrialists, farmers, fishermen and not only family members in this country but family members world-wide.

I guess the word ‘MERDEKA’ stands for having the choices to be a bit independent. 51 years ago, Malaysia has started well by achieving FREEDOM from British Imperialism, Colonization and Domination. Today, Malaysia and Malaysians are given more freedom in every aspect of living life. Although there is no doubt about us being dominated by other kind of domination, MERDEKA is with us giving us own choices to break free from the domination.

Today is a Merdeka Day. I as a blogger am proud to present Jalur Gemilang, the name of the flag which is always to me, the most beautiful flag in the world. I am presenting it the way it supposed to be unlike some of us who are presenting it upside down. In case some of you never knew, some of us died defending it.